David Wright Be Gone With Wilpon

Will David Wright be smoking any more victory cigars with the Mets?

It is that time of year once again Met fans.  As we bask in the afterglow of R.A. Dickey’s Cy Young Award frenzy, we turn our sights towards the 2013 season.  Just as we do every off-season, our minds wistfully follow the Hot Stove reports and Winter Meetings with the small shred of hope that the Mets will suddenly act like a large market team by making an unexpected splash or two.  You know, the type that would actually improve our team by signing a player in his prime for some meaningful dollars.  Someone for Met fans to hang our hats on.  Someone that gives us a touch of amnesia and makes us forget about the recent years of non-competitive misery.  Someone to give us some warmth during this long, cold winter.

Alas, what have we learned in recent years?  Mets management executes only what absolutely needs to be done in order to show us that they are trying.  They do not offer the educated New York baseball fan true hope.  No, Met management offers only The Token Move of Appeasement, or TMOA.  Yes, ticket sales are on the minds of the Wilpons.  Make no mistake about that.  Met ownership is banking on this tactic to lure the desperate Met fan into purchasing a season ticket plan, or perhaps a partial plan as a consolation prize.

This year’s version of TMOA is David Wright.  Not even the Wilpons could be idiotic enough to let their franchise face walk away from the team.  It is of no concern that the contract offered by the Wilpons will be backloaded with a significant amount of deferred money to be paid off through the 2020 season.  Whatever it takes to accomplish their one goal of selling tickets to cover the their massive debt and perhaps make some semblance of a profit.  Winning?  That is not part of the equation.

Let us look at this from another perspective for a moment.  If you want to measure the quality of the player David Wright truly is,  he first needs to be removed from the Met roster.  This is because he is a superstar on the Mets in comparison to any other position player currently under contract.  The truth of the matter is that Wright is a very good player, but he is not a superstar, nor an MVP caliber player.  He is not a player that can carry a team on his back for sustained portions of a season.  In other words, he is not a Ryan Braun, Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, and perhaps not even a Mike Trout.  Of course, I am listing the elite here.  However, if we move down the line just a bit, there is a second tier of talent in the majors that Wright may still fall short of placing within.  Robinson Cano, Prince Fielder, Joey Votto, Josh Hamilton, and Andrew McCutchen all come to mind as more productive offensive talents than Wright.  If DW had the benefit of playing alongside one of these talents, well then the Mets would have something cooking.Part of me feels bad for David Wright.  He will never get the opportunity to be a part of a winner here if he has to be the number one guy.  I wish better for him.  The other part of me sees it this way.  He did sign on the dotted line, and I believe he knew what he was getting himself into.  He is getting paid a king’s ransom.  Why should I feel bad for him?

My feelings for David Wright aside, the major concern is whether or not the Mets made a sound baseball decision here.  It is clear that Sandy Alderson was under direct orders to sign Wright at any and all costs.  However, we have learned that the Wilpons would not know a sound baseball decision if it slapped them in the face.

What do we know about the current state of this Met franchise?  We know that they are banking on the young pitching that they developed or acquired through trade.  If we are lead to believe that this is the direction they are headed in towards potential future success, wouldn’t it make sense for the Mets to grab some young position player talent as well?  Outside of Wilmer Flores (a third baseman subsequently blocked by David Wright’s presence), the Mets do not have anyone in the minors worth speaking of.  That being said, who do the Mets expect to win with in the coming years to go along with all of that young pitching talent?  The last time I checked, teams can not win championships losing by 3-2 and 2-1 margins.   We have heard whispers of the Mets looking to find some outfield talent on the cheap this off-season.  Do the Mets truly believe that they can get by this way and legitimately compete going forward?  Will they suddenly wake up and spend adequate money on some offensive talent in the coming years?

These are all great questions that will never be asked to the general manager nor ownership, and if it were asked, it would be left without answer.  I do know this, David Wright might have brought back some nice position player talent if he had been traded previously.  I know there is no guarantee that prospects bring future success, but how does our alternative look right about now?

There is one undeniable truth here.  David Wright being flanked in the middle of our order by the likes of Daniel Murphy and Ike Davis does not excite me one bit.  This much I know without any hesitation, and I know all Met fans feel the same way.

 

As the Wilpons continue to deal with a massive lawsuit set against them for knowingly being involved in the Ponzi scheme arranged by Bernie Madoff, the Mets are actually playing some decent baseball.  They actually sit just one game under the .500 mark as they open a subway series tonight against the Yankees.  (Did you notice that I didn’t use the term “Crosstown Rivals” when mentioning the Yankees?  Come on now.  The Mets are clearly not the product that the Yankees are, and as much as I hate to admit it, they are not even in the same universe.)

This backdrop aside, you might be lead to believe that this small measure of success would lend to a slight bump in fan attendance at Citifield.  However, the truth of the matter is that the opposite has actually occurred.  Newsday reports that fan attendance has actually dropped by 3,031 per game.  This was according to statistics taken from baseball-reference.com.

Empty Seats Citifield  - Be Gone With Wilpon

Empty seats at Citifield certainly depicts how Met fans feel about the state of their team

According to the article, Mets executives blame this on bad weather recently, as well as the fact that attendance typically picks up after the school year has ended.  They also “claim” that the total ticket sales for this time of year are actually the same as they were last year.  Yawn.

One thing is certain.  Despite the fact that the Mets have exceeded expectations thus far, the Met fan base does not really buy into what is going on.  After all, why should they?  When you look at the Met lineup, you see guys named Pridie, Turner, Tejada and Murphy getting regular at bats.  That is not going to excite anyone.  The fact is, the star power the Mets offer is either injured (David Wright, Ike Davis and Johan Santana), under producing (Jason Bay – again) or headed out of town very, very soon (Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and possibly Frankie Rodriguez).  The future, like the Wilpon’s bank account, is certainly bleak.

When this is taken into account, how can the Met front office realistically be surprised by the dip in attendance?  If they are hanging their hat on the idea that these AAA players will continue to overachieve, then they are less intelligent than even I thought that they were.   Truthfully, that is tough to do.

I personally tip my hat to all the Met fans who are fed up with the direction of this team due to its misfit owners.  As a matter of fact, I think that I’ll actually raise a drink to all Met fans later this evening.  It is about time that we Met fans show the Wilpons that enough is enough.

Here comes the optimism

April 26, 2010

Am I happy today as a Met fan?  Sure, why wouldn’t I be?  The Mets have won six out of seven and stand at one game above .500 today.  That is certainly beyond what I expected at this point.

Let me point out a few things that I believe have pushed the Mets beyond my expectations to this point.

1) Ike Davis -I did not expect the Mets to actually release Mike Jacobs so soon and inevitably call up Davis.  Let’ s just say that this move was a bit out of character for the Mets and leave it at that.  Davis is a ray of sunshine for Met fans.  There is not one person in Met Land that isn’t pulling for this kid to succeed, myself obviously included.  As long as he is here, the level of optimism is just a notch higher around here.  Let’s just hope that if he slumps, that the Mets do not decide to send him down simply because Daniel Murphy happens to be ready to play at the same time.

Mike Pelfrey at Be Gone With Wilpon

Mike Pelfrey has certainly "cooked up" some success with his first four starts in 2010.

2) Mike Pelfrey – There are surely some readers that want me to eat some crow here, and to date, this is justifiably so.  Mike Pelfrey’s ERA stands at a microscopic 0.69 after four starts, and has run his scoreless inning streak to 24 innings.  Those are some incredible statistics that even the most optimistic Met fan would not have expected.  Listen, I have been very impressed with the way he has gone about his business so far.  I still do not believe, unfortunately, that he is a dominant pitcher for the same reasons I always have.  He is not a strikeout pitcher.  In order for him to succeed, he needs to keep the ball low, and often times, out of the strike zone.   In his first few starts, hitters were approaching their at bats against him very aggressively.  In yesterday’s game against Atlanta, the Braves took the more patient approach, leading to 100 plus pitches thrown in only five innings of work.  This patient approach also led to five walks allowed.  I just feel that Pelfrey needs to be perfect in order to succeed here on in, and perfect is what he has been thus far.  It is just that perfection is a hard thing to maintain through a full season of work.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

3) The Bullpen – In yet another area that would warrant the need for me to eat some crow, the Met bullpen has been extremely productive.  (Eating some crow as I type)  I had stated my concern for anyone not named Felciano or Rodriguez to be a viable member of this bullpen.  So far, Igarashi, Takahashi, and Nieve have proven my concerns to be unfounded…at least in April.  My concerns remain for the simple reason that the two Japanese pitchers have exactly 14 appearances between them, and that Fernando Nieve has had limited starts throughout his three incomplete years of major league experience.  I restate that I am a fan of the proven pitcher in comparison to the unproven pitcher.  Why?  Major league coaches, scouts and players have a way of writing a book on inexperienced pitchers.  When they do, they make adjustments on how to approach each plate appearance against that pitcher.  It is then inherent upon that pitcher to make an adjustment of their own to remain successful.  Will these three relievers succeed in this quest?  Only time will tell.

4) Jose Reyes – It appears that Jose is healthy.  He is running hard, he is playing stellar defense, and he is beginning to hit the ball as well.  Through it all so far, he has also produced from his new position as the number three hitter in the order.  This is great news for the Mets, especially since Carlos Beltran will be out for a long, long time to the surprise of no one.  However, like Mr. Beltran, Jose has to prove that he can stay healthy for an entire season.  Once you get that injury label tagged to you, it takes a while to shake it off.

4) The level of competition – It isn’t as if the Mets have played anyone who is a World Series contender to date, other than the St. Louis Cardinals of course.  Of the Marlins, Nationals, Rockies, Cubs and Braves, do any of these teams strike fear in you?  Each of these teams are obviously flawed in at least one area of the game.  The Marlins can hit, but can’t field or close out a game.  The Nationals can’t do much of anything.  The Rockies are average in most areas.  The Cubs can’t hit or close out a game.  Finally, the Braves can’t hit, run the bases, or field, as we just witnessed this past weekend.  This is extremely odd for a Bobby Cox team mind you, even if it is his last season on the bench in Atlanta.

What will the Mets do against the the better teams?  Well, they did lose two out of three to St. Louis already. One thing is certain.  The better teams always expose another team’s weaknesses.  This will certainly play out as the season unfolds.

In summary, there is plenty to be happy with on April 26th, fresh off this latest sweep of the rival Atlanta Braves.  Will it continue?  If you believe like I do that the Mets have exceeded expectations thus far, then perhaps it will not.  If you believe conversely that what you have seen is a true gauge of what the Mets are as a team, then you will obviously feel differently.  Whichever the case, it has been a fun week, hasn’t it?

The rumors have begun, and like most rumors, they can spread like wildfire.  I try to absorb this data as best as I can without treating it as the gospel.  It is sort of like dipping your foot in the water instead of jumping in head first. 

Even with the foot dip, you still get a feel for the water temperature.  This ultimately determines whether or not you like what you feel, or in this case, what you can see.  What do I see?  I see the possiblity of trading for someone who at one time would have been a tremendous upgrade over what we realistically have as our opening day first baseman.  I purposely exclude the best choice for the job.  That being Ike Davis, whose potential far exceeds anything Daniel Murphy has to offer.  Unfortunately, Davis will be spending the majority of this season in Buffalo.  It is the Met mantra, “Ike in 2011, Ike in 2011, Ike in 2011.”  If you say it enough times, you start to actually believe that this is the only sensible answer.  That, for lack of a better word,  is just crappy.

Mike Lowell's days of resembling Iron Man are clearly over

The question, therefore, is whether or not Mike Lowell is a better fit for the 2010 Mets than Daniel Murphy is.  If this were 2007, there would be no debate.  Unfotunately, this is 2010, and the reality is Mike Lowell is a different player until proven otherwise.  If he weren’t, then the Boston Red Sox would not have brought Adrian Beltre on board, and would not be rumored as “shopping” Mike Lowell to the highest bidder.  They are even rumored to be offering him along with the provision of eating the majority of his contract.  Does this sound like someone who is anything close to the 2007 version of Mike Lowell?  Common sense would dictate that he is not. 

Let us not forget that this man underwent hip surgery in 2008.  Degenerative hips are not exactly something that befalls someone in the prime of their career, and it is not something that one bounces back from after surgery. 

All I am saying is, do we really need to trade a minor league player for a guy whose best days are realistically behind him?  I know, I know.  Even if I am right, he would still be an upgrade over the pitiful Fernando Tatis, who would at best be one week away from his release if he were a member of any other major league team right now.   Lowell would then fill the role Tatis is ticketed to hold, which is backup first and third baseman, as well as a righty bat off the bench.  The financial cost is nothing as well.  I see the argument here.

I am just not fond of the idea of another guy on the wrong side of the hill as a member of this team.  The distinct possiblity of him spending time on the all too popular disabled list just makes me nauseus.  Besides, as much as I and everyone else is down on Daniel Murphy, he does hold one characteristic that Lowell does not.  Youth.

Bring On the Youth

March 7, 2010

That’s right, I said it.  I am practically excreting optimism right now.  I would love nothing better than to see some new blood come in here and shock the world.  That sort of energy has not been felt in these parts since Jose Reyes and David Wright first hit the scene.  Sure, there have been other flashes.  Mike Jacobs in 2005 to name one.  However as we all know, that was short-lived. 

Wouldn’t it be something to see a couple of the young prospects stick with the team and create some buzz.  Come on.  Is anyone really interested in seeing Rod Barajas or Daniel Murphy?  Murph has some upside perhaps.  However, does that possible upside get anyone fired up?  I’ll tell you what might.  The Mets currently have four prospects in camp that have at least a measure of upside.  Along with that upside lies the possibility of a spark for fan excitement.  The four are obvious to most.  They are Ike Davis, Fernando Martinez, Josh Thole, and Ruben Tejada. 

Now I realize that all of them are ticketed for the minors this season.  I believe this to be true regardless of how they produce this spring.  My thought is, why not throw some prospect logs on the fire and chat it up?  There is nothing wrong with conversation now is there?

Ike Davis has already turned the spotlight on himself with his power and production in the first week.  His monster grand slam the other day was a thing of beauty, and only further validates his ability.  Fernando Martinez hit a pair of home runs yesterday, and has carried over his Carribean League MVP run into spring training.  Josh Thole clearly has ability as a hitter behind the dish.  Ruben Tejada’s minor league stats also show that he has a promising future ahead.  It certainly will be nice to see this kid play in Jose Reyes’ absence this week.  I do not need to see Alex Cora.  He too lulls me to sleep.  Perhaps we might see Tejada as the opening day second baseman next year. 

Could Ruben Tejada be the opening day escond baseman in 2011?

The point is that the Mets have some position players that are actually exciting to follow this spring.  These future players certainly look more promising than some of what we have on the major league roster right now.  I for one will be pulling for them all to show their stuff this spring, even though they inevitably will all be in AAA come April.  That is alright.  It is nice to dream, isn’t it?  Here is to the 2011 New York Mets!

The Makeshift Lineup

February 28, 2010

I have already written about my displeasure in the Mets’ decision to not move Carlos Beltran this off-season.  It is for this reason that we are discussing lineup options geared towards filling holes rather than writing something in that is strong and steady.  This was the Met brain trust at work once again.  I suppose you might call it the opposite of strong and steady.

Regardless of how you feel about this, we must now deal with what Jerry Manuel will have to pencil in on a day-to-day basis, even if it is far less than optimal.  I break this down into ideal versus inevitable lineups.  The ideal lineup lists where each player would most likely fall in a traditional batting order.  The ideal lineup will also be an incomplete one, as the Mets do not currently have players to fill all of the traditional holes that a batting order constitutes.  The inevitable lineup is the best case scenario for the Mets in order to actually plug all the holes needed to complete the batting order.  Let us begin with what is inevitable.  In parenthasis you will see the batting order slot that the player truly belongs in.

Inevitable Lineup:

1) Angel Pagan (bench/fourth outfielder)

2) Luis Castillo (8)

3) Jose Reyes (1)

4) David Wright (5)

5) Jason Bay (5)

6) Daniel Murphy (2)

7) Jeff Francoeur (7)

8) Rod Barajas (8)

9) Pitcher (9)

As you can plainly see, the Mets have players batting out of their ideal positions.  This is particularly true for Jose Reyes, whose capabilities project very well as a leadoff hitter because of his speed and the intangibles he brings to the game.  He does not fit the profile of a third place hitter very well, as that slot is defined as a team’s most patient, intelligent, and fundamentally sound hitter.  It usually is held down by someone who has a great eye for pitch recognition, and that with this selectivity, can fight off tough two-strike pitches before he eventually capitalizes on a mistake pitch.  I think that it is safe to say that Jose Reyes is not this type of hitter.  Would anyone argue with me?

The problem is that we do not actually have a hitter of this ilk on the roster, and that poses a large problem.  Who is the one guy that pitchers dread to face in a big spot?  Still thinking?  Believe me, you will be sitting there for a while until you eventually settle on someone who you know is not worthy.

If you sum it up, the Mets have one leadoff hitter, one potential 2nd place hitter, two fifth place hitters, one seventh place hitter, and two eighth place hitters.  Look below to see what the ideal lineup would entail.

1) Jose Reyes

2) Daniel Murphy

3) Player not on team

4) Player not on team

5) David Wright/Jason Bay

6) Player not on team

7) Jeff Francoeur

8) Rod Barajas/Luis Castillo

9) Pitcher

You can see my point.  Yes, I understand that not every team is the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox (even though we exceed one of the two in payroll…rapping head against the table).  I also realize that I have excluded Carlos Beltran, but that is what I do to players that are often injured….I pretend that they do not exist.  What other responsible thing can I do?

Jerry Manuel will have a tough time filling in his daily lineup card with the troops he has in his dugout.

The main point is this.  Not having a true number three or number four hitter on the Met roster makes it utterly impossible for me to have much confidence in the 2010 perspective lineup.

According to Buster Olney on the Brandon Tierney show yesterday, Ike Davis may have a legitimate shot of starting at first base this year for the Mets.  This is interesting news to say the least.  Apparently, the Mets hold Davis in such high regard, that if he hits well this spring, it will make it “very difficult” for the decision makers in the organization to send him down. 

The one real positive point going in for Davis is his defensive capabilities at first, which already “far exceed” those of Daniel Murphy.  The downside is that Davis does strike out quite a bit, and this could lead to stretches of non-production during slumps.

Could Ike Davis actually be the starting first baseman for the Mets in 2010?

Brandon Tierney goes on to say that he is down on the Mets’ chances because he does not like the Mets starting pitching.  Pitching wins, and I whole-heartedly agree.  I really respect what Brandon Tierney has to say, and I often listen to his show for his opinions.  I recommend anyone who has not heard his show to give it a listen when you can.  Brandon picks the Mets to finish 4th, while Olney picks the Mets to finish a shocking second.  I would love to take a puff of what he is smoking.

Olney also feels that Rod Barajas will be the starter and is also not convinced that Jason Bay’s knees are healthy.  Olney compared the Bay signing to the Pedro signing by the Mets, where the Red Sox did not feel that Martinez would show long-term health, but the Mets took the gamble.  “Ooff”, to quote Mr. Tierney.

The podcast can be heard here.  Scan to 7:40 of the podcast to hear this portion of the show, but also give the rest of his show a listen if you have the time.  Good stuff.